Daily news roundups

Sapong targets 20 goals, Union and league news, USWNT faces T&T tonight, more

Photo: Daniel Studio

Philadelphia Union

The Union continue preseason play on Saturday when they face Tampa Bay Rowdies, now home to former Union men Danny Mwanga and Freddy Adu (7 pm, YouTube).

The Union has announced its broadcasting schedule for the 2016 season. Three games will be nationally televised (two on UniMas, one on FS1), three will be on 6abc, one will be on Live Well Network, three will be on Comcast SportsNet, and 24 on The Comcast Network.

CJ Sapong is looking at 20 goals in 2016:

If you look at the last season and the amount of opportunities that I had and the fact that I didn’t get to play the full season, I feel like 20 goals is something that I can reach. One thing I definitely want to add to my game is the ability to bring other players into the attack, as well. I want to create goals in any way possible. If by the end of the season, I’ve created 20 to 25 goals, whether scoring or assisted, that’s what I feel like my productivity should be.

Make it so.

At the Union website, Richie Marquez talks about building on his strong 2015 season. He also talks about chemistry: “The team has an amazing chemistry right now,” he said. “In order to be a successful team, that chemistry is a must and if we continue to grow and hold each other accountable, this team will accomplish great things.” Make it so.

Also at the Union website, another look at how the familiarity of playing with one another at Georgetown is helping Keegan Rosenberry and Joshua Yaro at the Union.

Philly Soccer News on Andre Blake being the Union’s No. 1 goalkeeper.

An article at Athletic Business says the Union have a 9-year agreement to conduct spring training in Clearwater. Says Clearwater activities director Brian Craig, “We have a nine-year contract with the Union now, because they understand that they’re signing up with a place that will continue to invest in the facilities, so they can get their work in and take advantage of the great weather and all of the surroundings in Clearwater.” Clearwater invested $400,000 in renovations at the DiMaggio complex, “which included a new press box, bleachers and field upgrades.”

A recap of Thursday’s training session at the Union website. Eric Ayuk got a belated birthday surprise.

Sons of Penn recaps Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with DC.

Bethlehem Steel FC

At the USL website, a profile piece on Derrick Jones.

More on the Bethlehem roster at Brotherly Game.

Local

Looks like former Philadelphia Independence head coach Paul Riley will be named as the new head coach of WNY Flash today.

MLS

Player moves:

The Daily Star reports NYRB, Orlando, and “at least one other” MLS club (NYCFC?) are “queuing up” to sign Yaya Toure during the summer transfer window. “It is understood Toure is keen on playing in the MLS…Toure is also a target for the Chinese Super League, where he could expect to earn a staggering £450,000-a-week. But he is said to favour the lifestyle of America and more competitive nature of the MLS to what is on offer in the Far East.”

Shanghai Daily reports former Sounder Obafemi Martins is “raring to go” with Shanghai Shenhua.

ASN legal analyst Steven Bank looks at the recently released CBA.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the soon-to-be new home of Atlanta United, will have an artificial turf surface. Apparently this was decided back in 2013.

Minnesota United supporters group Dark Clouds has issued a statement opposing any move to remove United from the team’s name.

Pioneer Press reports the Minnesota United stadium in St. Paul is part of a larger redevelopment plan that will also include a movie theater, hotel, parks, and more.

The Star Tribune reports Minnesota United are looking to Portland for lessons on how to make the right transition into MLS.

At St. Louis Post-Dispatch, more on efforts in St. Louis to land a MLS franchise.

The USL announced on Thursday an agreement that will see it become the “exclusive domestic professional league partner” of Alianza de Futbol, “the leading national organization dedicated to the support and development of amateur Hispanic soccer in the United States.”

US

The USWNT face Trinidad and Tobago today in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic qualification tournament in Houston (8:30 pm: NBCSN, NBC Universo and NBC Live Extra). Previews at US Soccer, Soccer Wire, and Soccer America.

The LA Times on the potential final between the US and Canada.

ESPNW on how a healthy Alex Morgan brings sophistication to the USWNT’s play.

Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Meghan Klingenberg, and Julie Johnston have been named the first-ever FIFPro Women’s World XI. More at Fox Soccer, Philly.com.

Why wasn’t Beck Sauerbrunn on the FIFPro list? Good Question.

The draw for the Copa America Centenario will take place on Sunday at 7:30 pm (FS2, Fox Sports Go, Univision Deportes). Possible draw scenarios for the USMNT at Goal.com and Pro Soccer Talk.

Fox Soccer on one-time Union-target Alejandro Bedoya tearing it up at Nantes.

ASN looks at what the rosters of the senior USMNT and U-23 team might look like for March’s World Cup and Olympic qualifiers.

At the US Soccer website, part 1 of a Q&A with Jurgen Klinsmann.

At Soccer Wire, part 1 of an interview with US U-18 MNT coach Omid Namazi.

Also at Soccer Wire, more on the news that the soon to be announced US Soccer Development Academy system for girls will not involve the ECNL.

Elsewhere

Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for the upcoming week’s live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio.

From the AP: “Sepp Blatter insists he won’t publicly support a candidate in the FIFA election, though he revealed Thursday that four of the five men have contacted him about the campaign.” More from Sky Sports.

Blatter also says he is not guilty of the corruption charges that saw him receive an eight-year ban from football: “Platini is innocent. Like me. There’s nothing in there. This is an accounting case, not an ethical matter.” More at Goal.com.

Blatter blames the media for his downfall:

What I regret is the way the media moved in to kill me from the get-go. This condemnation of the FIFA president by the media when I was not responsible for the actions of the members of the executive committee since I am not the one who elected them…My regret is, maybe, that we didn’t take the necessary measures to avoid having members of the FIFA executive committee who hadn’t passed the integrity test.

Blatter reiterated his view that he’d still be president if the 2022 World Cup had been awarded to the US: “World Cups are not awarded because of payments, they’re awarded in relation to political interventions. The European group, that had agreed to the tacit deal that the World Cup should go to the US, changed its vote after France’s political intervention. So to answer your question, if [the World Cup] had gone to the US, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Reuters reports, “FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan said he would set up an independent oversight group led by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan if elected.”

Also from Reuters, continuing the reform theme: “The spotlight at next week’s FIFA Congress will fall on the presidential election – but the real key to the future of soccer’s beleaguered governing body is embedded in a document with the unglamorous title ‘Draft statutes – Congress 2016.'” Click here for a summary of the proposed reforms.

From the Guardian: “The Harvard professor overseeing a review of FIFA’s human rights policies has claimed that if the embattled governing body is serious about reform it could be a landmark moment for “advancing human dignity around the world.” More from PA Sport.

38 Comments

  1. CJ CJ CJ….yes.… 20 gols is without question the metric for success this season for you. Have you been reading PSP…… Make. Make. Be your Future.
    .
    Make this YOUR team.
    .
    .
    Dear MLS. I’m not buying your closed system franchise model….. sorry….
    .
    .
    …… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFLUhGeyGIE
    .
    .
    OPEN THE PYRAMID.
    .
    Oh and to those of you who tell me to “shut up” about Pro/Rel…. why don’t you lobby Mr. Farnsworth to stop including MLS News in the news… then and only then will I relent.

    • I won’t tell you to shut up (I’ll save that for Sepp Blatter), but I’ll tell you I think Pro/Rel right now would be league suicide. Still too small a fan base. When a PSP Review of a Union game generate 5000 comments instead of 50 comments, then we’ll talk.
      .
      PS Sepp Blatter, please shut up.

      • I don’t think it would be suicide at all. Nope. If the 2 worst teams went down and the two best NASL teams went up how would that be suicide?
        .
        If the two worst NASL teams went down and the two best USL teams went up how would that be suicide.
        .
        Don’t you agree our USL BSFC playing against the NY Cosmos would better serve their development than playing in the USL where they are forced to reside playing against NYRB developmental and Real Monarch and Richmond Kickers… our BSFC team should absolutely be able to play at the highest level… in a strong league they would never be good enough…
        .
        It would not be suicide… it would be responsibility for fielding a product worthy of playing against the best… and on and on and on I will go. If a business plan and group of investors took over Richmond Kickers with the goal of being in the top league in 3 years which would be a 2 level jump– how is that bad for MLS– and relegated the Chicago Fire or Union cause they can’t get their shit together. how is that suicide.
        .
        Maybe its because the pyramid is closed that the investor group hasn’t tried…there is NO incentive to do it… Sacramento Republic on and on and on… Have you seen recently how many USL teams their are? They are ALL over the United States of America and they are closed out… Grass roots growth of the game…. that’s just the USL… the 3rd tier of the pyramid…
        .
        Thanks for the response.

      • I think the issue is the entry fee. Can all of the 2nd and 3rd division clubs pony up the fee? or can a structure be created where they have a short window to do it on promotion (or no promotion)? and would there be stadium requirements (no playing at the local large HS field allowed)? remember, its like joining a country club right now, and as Groucho said …

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Indeed… the method of advancement would have to come under close(r) scrutiny.

      • Love it in theory. BUT, I was around for NASL 1.0. At this point I think the escalation in spending by those investor groups (and therefore by the big clubs to stay up) would far outstrip the increase in revenue from the growing grass roots. It would be a permanent money-losing situation. Meaning no investors anymore, meaning goodbye league. Let those grass roots grow a little more before the free market comes to graze.
        .
        If you want to see Pro/Rel implemented NOW, I would suggest going to talk to Adam Silver.
        .
        Since you’ve already said you’ll go on and on and on, I’ll let you have the last word now. That’s all I have to say on it. This was fun.

      • I enjoy the dialogue. Think it is important.

      • At this point in time, for the benefit of the game, is greatly out-weighed by profit. This really is the wrong country to try and promote that way of thinking. Money, money, money, money, MON NEY, makes this country go round (and the world). Long term thinking? Benefit of others and the national team? Surely you just. That’s simply, un-American. Damn socialists!
        .
        (Warning: Above content contains a high level of sarcasm. In California it has been found to have cancer causing effects.)

      • AMEN Brother

      • You also have to take into account the MLS single entity system. If a MLS team were to be relegated, does the player’s contract still belong to MLS, or to NASL, or would MLS “loan” the players of the relegated team to their NASL selves? At the very least, either MLS has to drop the single entity system, or NASL has to start a single entity system, or both leagues combine into one single entity system.
        .
        But I agree with cszack4 that before we go with a pro/rel system, not just MLS but also NASL and USL need to grow financially. But before that, MLS should have already expanded to the maximum number of teams, whether that be 24 or 32. After MLS has expanded to capacity, then Pro/rel shouldn’t begin until the best team in the second tier has the same or better attendance as the worst team in MLS. So I think at the least you’re looking at 10 – 20 years before we see pro/rel in the US, if at all.
        .
        I’m definitely thinking too far ahead, but when I think of pro/rel in MLS, I’m thinking expand MLS to 32 teams in 4 conferences. Play in-conference twice against each team and out-of-conference once, for a total of 38 regular season games. To make up for the longer regular season, only the top team from each conference would go to the playoffs. Additionally, the worst team in each conference would be relegated to their corresponding conference in the second division. This allows the second division league (NASL and USL combined) to be separated by region: to have a full second division league for each of the four conferences, which only play regular season games in-conference (to cut down on travel expenditures), wherein the top team from the second division replaces the bottom team from the MLS division in each conference. So the US second tier would be similar to the lower tier leagues in England, which are divided by geographical location. So a total of 4 teams being relegated from MLS and 4 teams advancing to MLS each season

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Suicide is MLS thinking that 32 teams in the league is a good idea. No other top flight league in the world goes beyond 20 because there is a recognition that there is a point of diminishing returns for talent.

        We need a solid second division to further prepare talent for the top league. And we need to have MLS stop trying to sabotage the NASL. A second division with 20 NASL teams and pro-rel means healthy competition, good for both leagues. 32 top level teams is unlikely in the extreme and a prescription for mass suicide

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Could it be that the fanbase is too small because it is being forced into a smaller aquarium.. and the fish isn’t growing.
        .
        Once again I urge you to look at the number of people who now show up at Orlando FC home games as an example of a fanbase waiting to grow… and Orlando was given promotion.

      • Funny. I went to the game in Orlando. I got the distinct impression that the (yes, quite large) crowd was there for the latest fad and the cool purple, not for soccer. Let’s see how they draw in three years after the new team smell wears off.

      • I think pro / rel could be setup within the structure of MLS’s single entity. But… it wouldn’t involve NASL or USL.
        .
        There was a news article linked a day or two ago that posited MLS will reach 32 teams, putting on par (size-wise) with the other four major leagues. So, if we go with that assumption instead of dividing up teams by geographic region, instead make MLS1 and MLS2 based on performance. Sixteen teams per “division” (even though both would technically be tier 1).
        .
        Play every team in your division (MLS1 or MLS2, remember) home and away. That’s 30 games. then play half the teams from the other division, with preference paid to geography to limit travel. That’s 8 more matches, for a total of 38 matches in the regular season.
        .
        In MLS1, you set your playoff field as the top 8 teams. Split them into Group A and Group B and play a round-robin within your group over the course of a week (Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday for example). The following week, A1 plays B2 and B1 plays A2 home and away. Again, Wednesday-Sunday sort of deal. The two winners face off in the championship game a week later.
        .
        The big downside is that half your teams make the playoffs. That, frankly, is shitty. But it makes the numbers work. Plus side is that the playoffs are over in three weeks. The two teams in the championship play a total of six games over those three weeks. All other playoff teams play either 3 or 5 matches.
        .
        Your bottom two teams in MLS1 are “dropped” the next year to MLS2. The next two worst teams (so 3 and 4) play a home and away series, with the loser also dropping.
        .
        What this will do is give just about every team something to play for at the end of the year. Teams are either fighting to get into that top 8, or they’re fighting to avoid being in the bottom 4. That would make almost every game at the end of the year carry some meaning for at least one team involved. I would wager that most years teams in that 9-12 range wouldn’t be a lock – they’d either be able to slide up or down based on a hot or cold streak.
        .
        On the MLS2 side, your top 2 teams automatically move up to MLS1 the following season. The third spot can be handled one of three ways. You can, of course, just give it to the 3rd place team. But that doesn’t make any money for the teams or league. You can have a “play in” game (or preferably a home-and-away set) between #3 and #4, with the winner moving up.
        .
        Or, if you’re looking to get as many games on TV as possible, you can do another “tournament.” Take the next 4 teams (so 3-6) and let them slug it out for the final promotion slot. You could set up a double-elimination bracket; you could set up a series of home-and-away, with 3v6 and 4v5; you could do a round robin. And probably a few other ways.
        .
        Play those games on the same basic schedule as MLS1, but on different days. So if MLS1 is playing Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday, MLS2 plays Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday.
        .
        Of your 32 teams, 18 of them are involved in “post season” play – either to win a trophy, to gain promotion, or to avoid the ignominy of demotion. In your top division, the four teams not involved in post-season are likely in the hunt one direction or the other up until the end. In your lower division, you have an all-out battle among your best teams to get into one of those top 2 automatic promotion slots. You also have a battle among your “middle” teams to gain one of the four “play in” slots to get a chance to move up.
        .
        The league gets a chance to have their product on TV for several concurrently running “tournaments” over a 3 week period.
        .
        With that sort of system in place, US Soccer and MLS could then work on expanding pro / rel to include NASL and/or USL (depending on which league is tier 2 status and such at that time). It gives US fans a chance to get used to the idea; it gives owners in MLS a bit of cushion, at least at first, to soften the blow of being relegated. It also may give room in the schedule to play longer (I’d have to look at a calendar and such, but my gut says maybe).

      • el Pachyderm says:

        John Ling. I like it. I’ve argued about something similarly but nowhere to this degree or thought.
        .
        I look forward to looking through your thoughts with a fine toothed comb after siesta.

    • To all your who commented on this:
      .
      Excellent stuff. Well done. Good thinking and legitimate ideas…
      .
      I do not portend to have it worked out…only that in its current structure MLS is detrimental to US Soccer growth if our goal is to…
      .
      1: be a legitimate world contending league 2: capable of producing World Class talent 3: True World Cup contenders.
      .
      This is my goal and expectation and I am unsure yet if this is MLS and US Soccers goal and expectation.
      .
      Good stuff PSP… now we’re thinking instead of just standing on a soap box screaming, “That won’t work!”… it will work… even if it there is some deviation from the current world structure… as for me I’m all for ripping the band aid off…
      .

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        El P, insert before your number one, in 26 point type the symbol for infinity and the single word “profit.”

    • Does anyone know how the old USL was created with Pro/Rel and/or the structure of that league? I think it was created in the late 90’s or early 2000’s and was before I was following the game is this level of detail, so I’d be curious to know if the league was completely open and if all owners agreed to pro/rel up front or if they just had one division and there was a mass expansion that created a second division or some other scenario. How did they deal with expansion teams and/or franchise fees?
      .
      Obviously it was done at a much lower investment threshold than MLS, but they had the system working for a few years before the NASL split. I’d be curious to know how they structured it and got ownership on board.
      .
      For me, I don’t see it happening for many years in the US strictly because of money. From a sporting sense pro/rel may be the best development path (I’m not 100% certain of this), but from a business sense, MLS is not going to risk losing a key TV market to relegation at this stage of development. When MLS is signing billion dollar annual TV contracts, things may change, but I just don’t see pro/rel being financially viable for the league or owners in the near future.
      .
      All that being said, some of the proposals in this comment thread seem really great and I’d be really interested to see them played out in the future. No matter what, this really is an awesome time to be alive and experiencing the growth/development of MLS and the other pro leagues in America. I wasn’t alive during most of the other leagues that failed, but all this feels different than those leagues (based on what I’ve read or heard) and feels like it will be more permanent. What that permanent league or pyramid looks like in the future, I have no idea, but still is awesome to be experiencing it.

    • John P O'Donnell says:

      Please, talk all you want, still won’t matter.

  2. CJ is being conservative – recognized goalscorers are in the 0.6 or higher in per game, with the good ones at 0.8 or higher.
    … so it’s hard to grow grass in Atlanta.
    … and MN Utd already have an ultras fan supporter group – love the name – no ambiguity.

    • Can someone please explain to me how hard it is to build a pitch that drains well? Seriously. If the English can do it, why can’t we?

    • I think the English pitches tend to be better than our’s in some cases. I know Arsenal is known for having a pristine pitch and the shape of the upper levels of the Emirates is wavy to allow more sunlight in. So the Falcons should have made the roof clear or done something to the edges to allow more sunlight in. That’s one option. Another option, and my favorite, is not to give a city an MLS team unless they can build their own stadium, which you made Orlando – and Minnesota – and Portland – and Philadelphia – and Miami – and supposedly NYCFC do as well (though the latter seems unlikely). Yet somehow Atlanta escapes that, when there are great cities who actually have stadiums for USL and NASL teams but weren’t considered.

  3. “Pioneer Press reports the Minnesota United stadium in St. Paul is part of a larger redevelopment plan that will also include a movie theater, hotel, parks, and more.”

    Well that idea sounds vaguely familiar. Hope they have better luck in Minny. Speaking of development, does anyone know how the new Union training building is coming along? Just from the pics I saw before, it seemed like there was an awful lot of construction still to be done in order to complete it by the beginning of this season. Would love to see the finished product.

  4. Blaming the media for your downfall. That’s like blaming the sharks for the blood being in the water. Once it’s out there, of course they’re gonna report it. Don’t do immoral things and the media won’t “blame” you.
    —–
    Fwiw, my 2 cents on the United front is that the league should not have allowed Atlanta to take the name United in the first place.. Besides the fact that I don’t think Atlanta United sounds all that good, I agree there shouldn’t be more than one in the league, but at least Minnesota United is already an established brand, so they should not be forced to vacate that name. Atlanta City FC sounds good, and pretty much anything else they want is great, but I’m 100% behind Minnesota United being the only other United.

    • I just don’t understand what the issue is with calling them both United and also having DC United. There’s plenty of United’s in leagues all over the world or teams with FC, SC, SV, Sporting, etc. Why is United something that there can only be a handful of? There’s still a city name involved and the crest/branding is completely unique. Am I really missing something here? Why is this even an issue for MLS and others?
      .
      Also, as an aside, I don’t think Atlanta United sounds that great either, but that’s a branding decision that organization made.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Because MLS has to fabricate its brand… nothing is organic.
        .
        It’s called hegemony. A single entity closed system. An overlord. Whatever name u use.
        .
        And it points to a reason why I’m not buying and why I berated MLS up stream. It’s a farce. .

  5. All I’m saying to CJ is this: as the lone striker we NEED you to SCORE 20-25. NOT create/score 20-25. We pay the midfielders to create.

    With that said…Good Luck and Godspeed!

    • I think the Union are expecting a lot more production from the wings and midfield so 20 goals may accurately describe the Unions expectations of him.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        20 gols is a windfall. I agree. Before we have a bona fide MLS Superstar I’d take a quality contributor… willing to hoist the team on his back and that’s what a consistent 20 tallier would do…not quite sure CJ is making a jump from 12 to 25 – 26gols….. yet.

      • While I want to see this jump to 20 goals I think we are all joking with ourselves here. As far as I remember CJ has never scored double digits in a season ever. Now he is sitting there saying 20. HA! I’ll be happy if he can get 10 in 20-25 games this season and based on seeing him play dunno if he can even do that.

      • To be fair, he seems to be talking about goals plus assists, at least at the end of his quote.

  6. I hope the result of Jimmy Rollins saying the Phillies were the team to beat in 09 or ’10 and going on to win the NL East, etc. If he scores 20 goals, I’m going to get a Sapong jersey for every member of my family.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    You know what Sepp… you’re probably right. If we were just 6 years away from hosting our second World Cup, you probably would still be the FIFA boss. But we’re not. Because you allowed your minions to profit off selling it to Qatar. You screwed us… now we screw you. Loretta Lynch for FIFA President! HA! We all know the story… I just had to get all that out… even after all the crap, Blatter still makes me ill when he talks.
    .
    As for Pro/Rel… I am in favor. I hate the talk from Garber about how it will never happen. Put a plan in place. Say 5, 10 years… whatever. Make it a goal of the clubs who want to join MLS, NASL, and the USL… to have something to reach for. Prepare each club. Set requirements, rules, etc. It is necessary to have constant competition, in order to get better as a country.
    .
    Love the talk from Sapong. I feel like he is ready to break out. Hoping for good things from him.
    .
    I am getting excited for the season. I am reserved as always when it comes to our Union, but I feel like this is going to be a good year. I’m not guaranteeing playoffs, but I feel like this team can be a 5th or 6th place team, and you never know in the MLS playoffs.
    .
    Hope is a hell of a drug 🙂

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